Shale gas event highlights Fylde coast supply chain opportunities

Francis Egan speaking at the shale gas event in Burnley
Francis Egan speaking at the shale gas event in Burnley

Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan has told how the shale gas industry could boost manufacturing and engineering businesses in Lancashire.

He was speaking at an event organised by Lancashire for Shale, which also featured an industry expert from Pennsylvania, USA.

Held at Burnley Football Club, the briefing had four speakers, and a short Q&A session.

Discussions focused on Lancashire’s position as a centre for aerospace, a significant manufacturing sector as well as having a growing energy and environment industry, employing 41,000, supported by four Enterprise Zones.

Delegates were told a thriving shale gas industry would help to boost Lancashire’s economy and position its energy industry companies as a new centre of excellence.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla welcomed guests. He said: “We are making significant progress with the drilling of the two wells at our shale gas exploration site in Lancashire.

“While the industry is still at an early stage, we continue to put local suppliers first, wherever possible, and are proud to be employing local people. The future opportunities for Lancashire manufacturing and engineering businesses are considerable as the shale gas industry grows.”

The meeting watched a video featuring Katie Klaber, an energy consultant in the USA, and the former CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an organisation at the forefront of shale gas exploration in the United States.

She said: “The shale gas industry and its supply chain really took off here in the Marcellus region in Pennsylvania after 2009.

“Before then, we produced around 25 per cent of our own gas from conventional wells, now, we produce 25 per cent of our entire nation’s gas, so that gives you some idea of the scale.”

Miranda Barker, CEO East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, told the audience that more than 500 companies had registered for the Shale Gas Supply Chain portal at www.shalegaslancashire.co.uk.

She said: "“Business opportunities and invitations to tender will be updated on a regular basis and will ensure that millions of pounds of future spend remains in the county, supporting local jobs.”

John Baldwin, from CNG Services spoke on how shale could mirror the growing biomethane industry.

He said: "Delivering growth has only been possible with the development of an accompanying supply chain. The industry has been built on the support of UK manufacturing and engineering companies and it’s very easy to see how a successful shale gas industry will create similar opportunities for equipment manufacturers and engineering suppliers in Lancashire.”